Addicted to Social Media?

Category: Social-Networking

How many times per day do you check your Facebook page? How many Tweets or Instagram updates do you view or post? How many social networks do you belong to? When is the last time you went 24 hours without updating your status? Is it possible that you are addicted to social media? Read on to find out...

Methinks Thou Dost Tweet Too Much

Some evidence suggests it is possible. One study found that college-aged students suffered symptoms similar to withdrawal from drugs when they were asked to abstain from the Internet for just one day. The majority of participants could not do it. Those who did last 24 hours reported feeling anxious, stressed, and depressed. One student said he "sometimes felt dead."

According to, social media addiction is "a behavioral addiction that is characterized as being overly concerned about social media, driven by an uncontrollable urge to log on to or use social media, and devoting so much time and effort to social media that it impairs other important life areas." Some psychologists believe that 10% of Americans meet the criteria, but based on my experience with teens and twenty-somethings who have a smartphone, that number should be MUCH higher.

Wasted time is not the only problem. In one scholarly paper that studied social media addiction, psychologists Daria Kuss and Mark Griffiths reported that for some, social media use is associated with anxiety, depression, loneliness, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The root cause, they believe is FOMO, or "fear of missing out" on something. There's even a new term, “nomophobia,” or fear of being without a mobile phone.

Social Media Addiction

A story in Wired Magazine helps to explain why it's so hard to limit the usage of smartphones and social media apps. The software is designed to demand your attention. Newsfeeds, recommended videos, and notifications pull you in. There's a ding and a flash on your screen. Your friend Alice has a birthday. Bill posted a photo of you. Cathy reacted to your comment. Dave updated his status. And there are five new messages in the Lost Pets group. How can you resist?

Many lists of "signs you may be addicted" to social media have been published. Some of the symptoms are more amusing than others. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Do family and friends comment on how often you peer into your phone or computer screen?
  • Have you ever missed an appointment because you were so engrossed in your social media activities?
  • Do you suffer from a lack of sleep due to participation in online social activities?
  • Do you become anxious if you posted a Tweet, Facebook update or photo and no one has responded?
  • Do you enable "notify me via email every time something happens" on your social media accounts?
  • Do you check Facebook every 15 minutes even though you have those email notifications enabled?
  • Do you find yourself speaking face-to-face in sentences of 140 characters or less?
  • Do you Tweet while driving? "Just hit a squirrel. Uh-oh, just hit another one."
  • Do you belong to 10 social networks and spend hours each day crafting the perfect updates for them?
  • Do you feel insecure if your follower count dips?
  • Do you spend more time with social media than you spend with family?
  • Do you have more friends on Facebook than you have in real life?
  • Are social networks your primary way of keeping in touch with friends?
  • Do you freak out when your favorite social media site goes down temporarily?
  • When you first meet someone, do you ask if they're on your favorite social media services?
  • Do you tell your friends "It's okay... I can stop any time I want!"?

Many of these criteria could be applied to other things related to social media, such as text messaging or online gaming. If you think you may be addicted to social media, try tapering off slowly. Turn off or limit notifications that pop up on your screen, and draw you in. Have self-imposed non-screen times during meals, at night, or first thing in the morning.

Set a timer to limit how much time you spend on social media updates. Use one of these apps to help fight smartphone addiction. "Envelope" uses paper, scissors and tape to temporarily transform your smartphone into a simpler "feature phone" device that only allows phone calls, photos and videos.

Think of good things to do with all that new-found free time, and go do them. Do you have something to say about social media addiction? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Addicted to Social Media?"

Posted by:

06 Feb 2020

fwiw, I check facebook about once every two weeks. I have all notifications turned off. one could say, I don't really shiv a git.

Posted by:

06 Feb 2020

It is an addiction in the sense that you develop a need for it. But all "social media" uses are not social in their use. I use Twitter a lot to get references for further readings, and to put my two bits in about political issues mostly. But I never communicate with friends or family. For me, Twitter is a public platform, not a social communication tool

Posted by:

06 Feb 2020

Social media is designed to be distracting,so you will be engaging it all the time. Unfortunately,sending texts or responding to a Twitter post while driving is dangerous.There are laws throughout the country prohibiting this,but people still will take their lives or others into their own hands just to keep up with social media.

I am amazed how many people are looking down at their smartphones.Just about very person is on some app or another.Talk about addiction!

Posted by:

06 Feb 2020

The internet is addicting enough without the various forms of social media. I spend way too much time looking at emails and various articles.

Posted by:

06 Feb 2020

Bob, I am lucky. I can say no to all of them!!

Posted by:

06 Feb 2020

Except for Facebook where the only thing I do is occasionally reply to my friends' posts, I stay away from social media.

Posted by:

Jay R
06 Feb 2020

Who knew? I've got something in common with Pete. I, too, had 100% nos.

Posted by:

06 Feb 2020

Bob, I am lucky. I can say no to all of them!

I enjoy this newsletter very much, the internet
is becoming more engrossing by the day.

Thank You Bob for the great newsletter, take care,
enjoy and be prosperous...God Bless You Amen

Posted by:

top squirrel
06 Feb 2020

I am wondering what proportion of people on this list, like myself, do not have and never had a Facebook account and have no idea what Twitter or Instagram are or even how to access them.
I do check my email now and then and I admit I would have trouble getting along without internet access.
I suspect the whole thing boils down to whether you use the conveniences in your life for your benefit or they use you for theirs.
When I hear stories about social media addiction I know what the answer is for some people.

Posted by:

06 Feb 2020

"Do you have something to say about social media addiction? Post your comment or question below..."
— glad to see you're doing your bit to help, Bob! ;)

Posted by:

07 Feb 2020

Like several others have posted here, I too have an actual life, that precludes allowing any of those to monopolize my time, either. But HAVE annoyingly landed on a few of them from time-to-time, while following search links (at least until I blacklisted them within a browser extension).

Until the great unwashed masses expand their involvement in real social encounters available around them [insert numerous objections here], it's unrealistic to expect those hooked on these, to be able to "just say NO!". From what I've seen within family, friends and neighbors, THAT is not a viable option.

Posted by:

08 Feb 2020

Another regular at Starbucks asked to share my table while I was doing my regular quad shots and WSJ. This 40something gal looked to be immensely happy in her 'environment', while snuggling with her phone. At times, she had a genuine smile while doing whatever phone people do, when they are engaged with them. I mean there was some real genuine joy and beaming happiness exuding from her while she was at time thumb-texting and obviously also listening to something in her earwigs. Should have I stood up asked her "get an actual life"? Yes, they kinda irritate me as a person which would be embarrassed to use one in public but I know I am the Luddite!

Posted by:

Bob Kinsler
09 Feb 2020

While most use the social media to keep up with relatives and friends, I tend to use it to keep track of interesting things going on with the VA Medical Facilities within my own state and those facilities close by in other states.

That and other Veteran Service Orgs that have veteran information that my VSO Department needs to know about to continue their ability to help other veterans within their area of influence.

Lastly, with the writers permission, copy their information and send it to numerous state wide weekly papers so those who do not have internet accessibility or do not know or do not want to be on a computer can keep informed on what is going on for their benefit.

Posted by:

09 Feb 2020

We have Cons Cellular block any texts before they get to our flip phones. We have more important things (to us) to do, rather than "social media".

Posted by:

Rick Krieger
10 Feb 2020

I have to admit that I spend way too much time looking at my phone. I do leave it alone in the morning but at some point I pick it up and look at facebook. Then there are e-mails that I wish that I could just get rid of. I spend a ton of time going through them and most are junk.

Posted by:

11 Feb 2020

Receive immediate emergency info via Facebook posts + death notices of friends, contact with distant friends..(in my late 70's). Love special interest + tech info. Yet, connected in real time to neighbors, friends, family and many social & political groups. Love poetry,
hobby, travel, neighborhood groups.Biggest plus - immediate interaction and feedback ! Find, frequently, that only 50% of my peers are in the know..relying exclusively on print or sometimes radio.

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